Guidelines help tackle pain in cats and dogs

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The American Animal Hospital Association and American Association of Feline Practitioners have released the AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.

"These guidelines will give veterinarians and pet owners a common compass to diagnose and manage pain that affects cats and dogs," said Dr. Thomas A. Carpenter, AAHA president.

The guidelines offer strategies for identifying and treating animal pain, including using a pain management algorithm, developing anesthetic protocols to include pain prevention, and educating pet owners on how to recognize signs of pain. A variety of topics is covered in the guidelines, such as anticipation of pain and early intervention, pain recognition and assessment, perioperative analgesia, and complementary and alternative medicine.

According to the guidelines: "The profession's understanding of pain management is evolving with new agents and techniques and the application of evidence-based medicine. ... It is hoped that this document provides a framework to approaching and managing pain and to understanding the challenges that face the profession in the future."

The AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats are available online at and